Wednesday morning news: July 10, 2019

Labor secretary under scrutiny for past Epstein plea bargain » Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta is under scrutiny this week for his role in a once-secret plea bargain involving billionaire and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. 

As Epstein faces new criminal charges … details of his 2008 plea deal are drawing attention. It allowed Epstein to avoid federal prosecution … over allegations he molested teenage girls. He got 13 months in jail instead. Acosta was a federal prosecutor in south Florida at the time. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the plea bargain “obscene.” 

SCHUMER: The first thing I’ve called for is that the Office of Professional Responsibility make public their documentation. It’s a major mystery to everybody as to what has happened.

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have called on Acosta to resign or be fired. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell neither defended nor condemned Acosta.

MCCONNELL: He serves at the pleasure of the president and I’m inclined to defer to the president to make that decision.

And President Trump on Tuesday said he felt “very badly” for Acosta, adding that he’s an excellent Labor secretary. But he also said that the White House will look “very closely” at Acosta’s handling of the case. 

Court: Trump can’t block critics on Twitter » A federal court ruled this week that President Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has details. 

SS: The 2nd U-S Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision on Tuesday. That ruling concluded that a public official cannot use a social media account for “all manner of official purposes” … while excluding people who disagree from an otherwise open online dialogue.

U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel. He said “If the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”

The Justice Department did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The decision came after a group filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven people the president blocked from his Twitter account for criticizing his policies. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

Billionaire activist announces presidential campaign » One day after Congressman Eric Swalwell dropped his White House bid … another Democrat has joined the race. 

California billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer announced his campaign by video on Tuesday. 

STEYER: Almost every single intractable problem, at the back of it you see a big money interest.

He originally announced he would not run but later changed his mind. The 62-year-old is positioning himself as a political outsider ready to challenge the Washington machine. He said he’s ready to take on powerful corporations and attack climate change.

Ross Perot dies at 89 » Former billionaire presidential candidate Ross Perot died on Tuesday at the age of 89. A family spokesman said he died at his home in Dallas. 

Perot twice ran for president.

PEROT: See I’m the only guy who talks numbers. I love this. Nobody else will even talk about it. It’s like a crazy aunt in the basement. Everybody knows she’s there but nobody talks about it.

Perot heard there during his 1992 campaign. He won 19 percent of the popular vote that year. Many analysts believe he pulled enough votes away from incumbent President George H.W. Bush that year to allow Bill Clinton to win the election. 

He ran again in 1996, grabbing 8 percent of the vote nationally.  

Perot founded a data systems company in 1962 with a $1,000 loan. Two decades later her sold the business to General Motors for $2-and-a-half billion dollars. 

Perot later abandoned the Reform Party his candidacy helped to establish … and endorsed George W. Bush in the 2000 election. He continued to call for fiscal responsibility in government.

VW stops production the Beetle » It’s the end of the road for an iconic economy car. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has that story. 

PB: Volkswagen is halting production on the last version of the Beetle.

The final VW “bug” will roll off the assembly line this week in Puebla, Mexico. 

The Beetle was born in Germany in 1938 during the Nazi era and came to the U-S 11 years later. The company halted U.S. sales in 1979. But it kept making the original bugs until 2003.

VW later revived it in the U.S. in 1998 as a more modern “New Beetle.” It attracted mainly female buyers, so the company revamped it in 2012 to appeal to men. That version had a less bulbous shape, among other changes. But after an initial jump, sales continued to fall. Last year VW only sold about 15-thousand Beetles. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta (right) with President Donald Trump in 2018.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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